Boating accidents and fatalities decreased in Arkansas in 2018.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission published an annual summary of Arkansas boating accidents. The summary states that there was a 9 percent decrease in boating accidents and a 36 percent decrease in the number of boaters who died from boating accidents in 2018.
Sixty boating accidents were reported in 2018. Those accidents resulted in seven deaths, six of which were a result of drowning, 29 injuries that required medical attention and an estimated $456,220 in property damage, according to a Game and Fish Commission news release.
“Every year we see the same thing, if adult boaters would wear a properly fitting and functional life vest, we would avoid nearly all of the fatalities we see on the water,” said Capt. Stephanie Weatherington, AGFC boating law administrator. “Three of the six individuals who drowned were not wearing a life vest, and the other three were either worn improperly or the life vest was found to be in poor condition with flotation missing or damaged.”
Many people carry life vests on board their boat to meet legal requirements, but do not maintain them or ensure that they fit properly, which renders them ineffective, the news release states.
“Even in most of our boating fatalities, there was a life vest on board the boat, it just wasn’t being worn,” Weatherington said. “It’s the same story with non-fatal boating accidents.”
Out of the 204 people involved in last year’s boating accidents, only 32 percent were wearing a life jacket when the accident occurred, according to the summary.
“Eighteen percent were required by law to wear one.,” Weatherington added. “So that means only 14 percent of boaters who were in an accident were voluntarily wearing their life vest. We have to do better.”